ST. PETERSBURG — Rays officials smartly acknowledged that they can't simply replace Cy Young Award-winning ace David Price after trading him to the Tigers on Thursday.
But they feel like they can fill the void pretty well.
The spotlight will be on Drew Smyly, the 25-year-old lefty acquired from the Tigers, who will take Price's spot in the rotation, starting Tuesday in Oakland.
Smyly, a 2010 second-round pick out of Arkansas, is 6-9 with a 3.93 ERA and 89 strikeouts compared to 31 walks in 21 games (18 starts) for the Tigers this season, 16-12, 3.46 over parts of three, and is typically tough on lefty hitters. He features a fastball that gets into the low 90s, breaking ball and changeup. Plus, the Rays have him for four more years.
"He's kind of really interesting," manager Joe Maddon said. "There's a lot to like about him. … Don't expect David-like performance yet, but this guy also can be very, very good."
Plus, the Rays feel pretty good about starters Alex Cobb, Chris Archer, Jake Odorizzi and Jeremy Hellickson.
"We feel like we still have a rotation that's above average, that on any given day we have a chance to win," executive vice president Andrew Friedman said.
Though INF Nick Franklin is headed to Triple-A Durham, the Rays have liked the 23-year-old switch-hitter since the Lake Brantley High product played against them last year for the Mariners.
Displaced after the Mariners signed 2B Robinson Cano, Franklin has spent most of this season at Triple-A Tacoma. The Rays are most intrigued by his combination of power (12 homers in 369 at-bats last year) and athleticism to play anywhere on the field, which sounds a bit like a future Ben Zobrist. "A Rays type of player," Maddon said.
"A guy that has that kind of power that can play the middle infield, both spots, we felt like was a really good player that has a chance to help us win a lot of games in the future," Friedman said.
The third player the Rays got back, 18-year-old SS prospect Willy Adames, is the furthest away from the majors but might have the highest upside.
As the youngest position player in the Class A Midwest League, Adames hit .269 with six home runs, 14 doubles, 12 triples and 50 RBIs in 98 games, with a .346 on-base percentage. He will join the Bowling Green (Ky.) affiliate in the same league. He was recently ranked the No. 4 prospect in the Detroit organization.
"The guy that's really intriguing to me is Adames," Maddon said. "When you make a deal like this, people always look at who's coming to the big leagues primarily, but you've got to look more under the surface. … To be that young and that proficient, he sounds very exciting."
WELCOME MAT: RHP Chris Archer said as tough as it was to lose Price, he understood the reason and welcomed the new additions. "At first it feels like an enucleation (the surgical removal of an eye), because pitching is an important element to our success and David was our ace," Archer said. "But then you have to shift that mind-set and understand what we have instead of what we don't have."